Sunday, 1 May 2016

SPRING SOWING AND PLANTING



SPRING SOWING AND PLANTING

Sunny days are arriving so now we can get down to some serious sowing and planting on the vegetable patch. A lot of plants have been ready to plant, but it was necessary to wait till the soil had warmed up as cold north winds continue to dominate our spring weather.
Broad beans however are quite hardy so these were planted at the end of March and are now getting established, though the late cold weather did not help them.
Onions sown at the end of February had to wait a fair bit in the cold greenhouse to thicken up before they were big enough to plant out near the end of April.
Pea Kelvedon Wonder was sown at the beginning of April, but more in the hope that warmer weather was just round the corner. I am sure they will appear and grow just fine, but weather forecasts keep warning us of cold winds coming from the north, so I will be ready to give them a wee earth up if necessary.
John with lettuce ready to plant
Lettuce, radish, spring onions and beetroot grown in cellular trays eventually made some decent plants to plant out on my plot under a low polythene tunnel. This protection should bring them on fast, so salad days will soon be with us, though I am still getting plenty of use from my overwintered lettuce, spring onions and rocket. The rocket may be running up to seed, but the plants are still producing plenty of fresh leaves to use. Swiss chard sown last autumn has overwintered just fine and is now growing strongly so the row will get thinned out.
Other overwintered crops are now either finished such as my Swedes, sprouts and leeks but there is still plenty kale, cabbage, parsnips and soon my cauliflower Aalsmeer will be hearting up.
Turnips and parsnips have now been sown as we have had quite a few dry sunny but cool days when working the soil has been good.
My first green manure crop of clover has been sown on the ground allocated to my pumpkins, courgettes and sweet corn as these will not get planted till early June. I hope to get a good cover then dig it in a week before planting. Some people prefer to cut off the top growth and compost it in case it hinders planting. This ground has been well composted in winter as pumpkins, courgettes and sweet corn are heavy feeders and need fertile soil. The sweet corn has now been potted up into final pots to grow into bigger plants ahead of planting.
Sweet corn potted up
The greenhouse has been a hive of activity as plants get potted up and need more room so anything that is hardy goes outside. My tuberous begonia collection just gets bigger every year and although growth is well behind they still take up a lot of space. So young cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts plants are now all outdoors getting hardened off. The greenhouse border got a load of well rotted garden compost added and dug in to get ready for tomato planting direct into the border.
Sweet peas are also quite hardy so they went outdoors in mid April for planting out in very fertile soil at the end of April.
Geraniums are another hardy flower and several got so big I just had to get them planted into some tubs, at present full of pansies and tulips. So I had to remove some pansies to a flower border to make room. I now have geraniums in flower with a group of tulips waiting to open up. I’ve not tried that combination before.

Wee jobs around the garden

Rhubarb is now in full growth as the ground is still moist and warmer days appearing every so often, so start pulling off some sticks for immediate use and if you get a heavier crop than you can use then put some in the freezer. Remove any flower stalks as soon as they appear. Rhubarb used to be the poor man’s fruit as it was easy to grow and very cheap, but now research has shown it to be very important for good health. It is packed with vitamins C, K and B and the minerals calcium, potassium, manganese and magnesium. It should be eaten all year round and is just about reaching superfood status.

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